Tonight: Babi Yar, Berkeley Symphony @ Zellerbach Hall.
Spending this week with Shostakovich 13 has been heavy, meaningful, timely, and even physically painful. This picture is the part where Anne Frank is taken by the Gestapo. The text bemoans the loss of the belief in *real truth,* as thousands of Jews went to their deaths with no historical record of the event, no acknowledgement, no monument in Babi Yar. Someone had to speak up and thus this symphony was born. The necessity of speaking up in and for truth is a message plainly relevant today.
Interestingly, I have not experienced prolonged physical pain in my career, ever. Never before have my arms burned, passage after passage, as they did this time. For me, this experience has been exceptional; that my own physical discomfort seemed to mirror the struggle and fears of the piece seemed appropriate and even in a melancholy way, welcome. It was a chance for me to remember.
We need to remember. We cannot forget that place from whence we have come, or truth retreats... and history repeats itself. And music helps us to remember. Therefore we need to boldly make more music with meaning and intention. And as consumers, listeners need to take up the mantle of wishing more than to be 'entertained' by what they hear or experience in the arts.
Music has the power to help us to memorialize, process, grieve, heal, learn, adapt, find joy in sorrow, satirize, hope, laugh, escape and confront. To be our better selves. To join with others and partake in something bigger than ourselves. And to open the door of human imagination, where we can lead others into a place of hope, beauty, renewed perspective, and mutual respect.
Tonight, I gratefully enjoy the renewed sense of privilege that comes with wielding such a gift.
I'm Erica Ward, formerly